Album: ABBA – “Arrival” (1976)

Album number four now, and the ABBA juggernaut was really roaring into gear by this point, reaching No.1 in several territories including the UK where it was the bestselling album of 1977. Saying that, it’s a bit light on mega hits aside from THE biggie.

(originally posted April 2011)

10 When I kissed the teacher – SMUT! OK not really that bad, but a lovely perky opening (if you’ll pardon the phrase). We’ve all had dirty feelings about people in positions of power haven’t we? I can’t believe I haven’t heard this song before, it’s really a gorgeously rich pop song, the layered harmonies just raise it so high and the tempo is just irresistible. That’s before the climactic “I wanna… huh huh huh” stuff, AMAZING.

10 Dancing Queen – No introduction needed here of course, and I’ll stick my neck out and call this their signature hit amongst a group of hugely well-known smashes. As a result it does suffer a little, but it really is just one of those timeless songs. A lot of my memories of this are rather off-topic, that Brits Medley, Muriel’s Wedding, terrible office parties, I genuinely believe this will be a song that people will remember a hundred years from now.

07 My love, my life – A gorgeous ethereal intro to another female-vocalled track (a trend I’m enjoying). It’s a bit of a drippy one though, but still quite sweet and it’s not overlong. I suppose those first two tracks are a hard act to follow, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. Passable.

08 Dum dum diddle – Spazzy synths from the get-go now, I really love that. Nonsense chorus though, is she really imagining how it would be to be his violin just to get a good PLUCKING? A bit too abstract for me really, I was on sturdier ground with songs about getting bummed in the tits by a maths teacher. Still a bit sad that this guy is only happy when he’s FIDDLING, I think she needs to look for someone a bit less deficient. Chorus doesn’t quite hit the heights of other nonsense hits, but pleasant.

09 Knowing me knowing you – They weren’t getting divorces yet were they? I guess there’s always space for a bit of heartbreak in pop music, and this is another famous smash. To be honest, Steve Coogan poisoned this one forever for me, so it’s difficult to not think of that when I listen. I love the bridges so much though, so dramatic. I’m glad they’ve found a way to incorporate the guitars they seem to subject me to every album, without it being too rock’n’roll. Very good but I suspect this is one I’m only going to grow to love later on.

08 Money Money Money – Another one ruined by TV, seemingly used on any magazine show segment on personal finance since the year DOT. As a result I only really knew the chorus it turns out, I thought I knew the bridge but I think I’m thinking of the Oompa Loompa song (“I don’t like the look of this”). I love how genuinely irritated the ladies sound, it’s quite bitter, especially the bits like “and win a fortune in a GAME” almost SNEERED out. KEY CHAAAANGE!! Well it’s still a good pop song, I won’t pretend to rever it just for being one of the well-known ones, I think I’ve just heard it too many times out of context to love this.

07 That’s me – I love the tempo to this one, even if the song doesn’t quite measure up. The instrumentation is very zippy, I like it. Not sure about the song as a whole though, it’s like a paler shadow of When I Kissed The Teacher somehow. They don’t sound like each other, I think I mean just the general feel of it. Not really that catchy, probably the track I always forget about. Lovely layered sound, but that’s not enough.

06 Why did it have to be me – Ugh, well at least we’re down to one track per album for the “tedious boys rocking out” moment. This is just like the most generic 50s-sounding dross… that said, I have a bit of a soft spot for that because my parents played a lot of that, but still, it just doesn’t stand up to the amazing opening tracks. This sounds like Status Quo or something dreadful, please TAKE IT AWAY.

09 Tiger – Oh this is more like it. I love the drums, and the manic lyrics. Not sure what this is about, is she a femme fatale, or is it some metaphor for city living? Or femmes fatales who live there? Those little asides about the perils of cities are strange but great, “the city is a NIGHTMARE, a HORRIBLE DREAM”. And then the bonechilling “I am a tiger Tiger TIGER TIIGEERRRRRRRRR!!”

07 Arrival – An instrumental outro now, and I’m not quite sure I get it. As you may remember I LOVED Intermezzo No.1, but that was a standalone max track. This comes out of nowhere and doesn’t seem to tie anything together from the album, no common themes or anything? It’s very nice though, but just a bit wishywashy. And why is a track called Arrival at the end?? If it was the first track and bookended by some “departure” track, maybe it would make more sense.

So, in closing, it might seem like I was a bit bemused by the album as a whole, but I found it a very pleasant listen. Sure, there are a few places where my attention started to wander, but as a short album it never outstays its welcome. I would say that I did prefer “ABBA” to this, but it’s not a let-down by any means. Not quite sure why some people hold this in such high regard compared to their other albums.

Keepers for the iPod: When I kissed the teacher, Dancing Queen, Knowing me knowing you, Tiger

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